Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Explanatory Memorandum from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (EST 98A)


  1. This memorandum for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions supports the Main Supply Estimates for 1998-99 for Class VI Environment, Transport and the Regions, providing the Select Committee with further details of the major changes in provision sought for Votes 1-9 against the 1996-97 and 1997-98 Main Supply Estimates.

  2. The Department's Annual Report 1998 (Cmnd 3906) contains further detailed information on the Department's spending plans and was published at the same time as the 1998-99 Main Estimates on 7 April 1998.

  3. The Explanatory Memorandum has been compiled to provide the Select Committee with the following details (including cross references between the Vote and the relevant Chapter in the Annual Report 1998):

    —  how the Votes have been re-structured following the merger;

    —  any significant changes in provision in 1998-99 from provision in 1996-97 and 1997-98;

    —  any significant new provision or services on each Vote;

    —  any provision which will rely solely on the authority of the Estimates or Appropriation Accounts;

    —  an update on the progress in developing Schedule 5 of the Department's Resource Accounts; and

    —  an update upon the issues raised in the Report on the Estimates of the former Environment Select Committee in 1995-96 (HC 382).

  The level of voted provision in 1997-98 and 1998-99 reflects the Government's decision to maintain the previous Administration's planned overall spending totals for those years.


  4. The Department has undergone a significant change in its Vote structure following the merger of the former Departments of Transport (Class V) and Environment (Class VI) on 16 June 1997. (A full list of the changes can be found in the 1998-99 Main Supply Estimates or on page 202 in the Annual Report 1998.) The Treasury have agreed to the appointment of additional Accounting Officers for the Agencies' Votes and Vote 4 (Local Government)—a chart showing the DETR Accounting Officer responsibilities is at Annex I.

  The following changes have been made:

    —  planning was switched from the former Environment Vote 4 (Local government and planning, England) to form part of the new Vote 2 (Planning, roads and traffic and local transport);

    —  the administration provision of the two former Departments was merged onto the new Vote 5 (DETR—administration) and most of the provision for the merged Department's Executive Agencies was switched to the new Vote 7 (Executive Agencies);

    —  part of the former Transport Vote 2 (Administration and transport services), and Vote 3 (Transport industries) and Vote 5 (Roads and local transport) were reorganised to form the new Vote 2 (Planning, roads and traffic and local transport) and Vote 6 (Transport industries); and

    —  the former Environment Vote 6 (Sale of PSA Services businesses) was discontinued and its remnant merged with Vote 5 (DETR—administration).

  The restructured Votes now reflect the policy groups of the Department's senior management structure.


  5. The Annual Report 1998 provides a detailed breakdown of the Department's expenditure plans for 1998-99. It also provides information on how the Department's programmes have performed against the relevant objectives over the last financial year. Information is also given on the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising (chapter 18), the Office of the Rail Regulator (chapter 19), the Office of Water Services (chapter 20) and Ordnance Survey (chapter 21).

  6. No new core requirements were requested by Treasury for inclusion in the Annual Report 1998. It differs from previous Reports in that it covers a period of only one year ahead. Plans for beyond 1998-99 will be available when the Comprehensive Spending Review is completed in summer 1998.

  7. We have endeavoured to continue to provide an informative and accessible Annual Report despite the complications caused by the merger of the Departments of Environment and Transport.

  8. There have been several changes to this year's report compared with earlier Reports as a result of the merger and we have clearly had to cover a greater number of policies, programmes and expenditure lines. But we have sought to do so without making the Report unwieldy or overly complicated. We have aimed to make it consistent with the new management and Vote structure of the Department.

  9. We are carrying out a follow up exercise within the Department and with Treasury to see if improvements can be made in the production process and in the presentation of information for next year's Annual Report.

  10. We would welcome any comments or suggestions the Committee may have on improving the clarity and presentation of the Department's Annual Report.


  11. Voted cash limits exist for all or some of the expenditure on each of Votes 1-9 for which DETR accounts. In addition the department manages nine cash limits not voted in Estimates. These are listed in full (with their 1998-99 provision) in Table 2.4 (page 25) of the Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 1998-99 (Cm 3901).

  12. There are two gross running cost limits: one for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (which covers DETR Central; Government Offices; PSA Services; Rent Assessment panels; Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency; Highways Agency; Marine and Coastguard Agency; Planning Inspectorate; and the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre) and the other for the Health and Safety Executive. There are net running cost limits for the Vehicle Certification Agency and the Health and Safety Laboratory. Details of these can be found in Table A12 (page 159 of the Annual Report 1998).

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1998
Prepared 17 August 1998